Deptford Creekside conservation area
The Deptford Creekside conservation area was designated in May 2012 and comprises the area of industrial Creekside south of the railways and the Crossfield Estate.
Deptford is one of the oldest settlements in Lewisham. Its location at the Thames and Creek riverside made it naturally the focus of early settlement and industry, with royal associations since Henry VIII. Here, on the banks of the Creek and Thames foreshore lie the beginnings of settlement, industry and urban growth of the borough.
Creekside has its origins in the 16th century as a small lane leading to the King’s Slaughterhouse on the site of Harold’s Wharf (today the APT Studios). The medieval origins of Creekside are still evident in the narrowness of the street and the small urban grain of the wharves at its southern end. Today, the southern part of Creekside is the only remaining historic river-related industrial quarter of significant coherence within Deptford and along the Creek itself. The area’s layout, buildings, yards and wharves provide evidence of Creekside’s historic development pattern and land use, and combine with the spatial qualities of the Creek to create a clear and locally distinct identity.
The overcrowded and poor condition of the houses in many of its neighbourhoods also made Deptford an early focus of the London County Council’s (LCC) programme to improve living conditions for the poor. The Crossfield Estate, built in the 1930s, consists of a total of nine apartment blocks separated by Deptford Church Street and the railway viaduct into three separate entities. Consistency in height, style, architectural detailing and building materials distinguish the estate as a single-phase development. It is a good example of its time that illustrates the underlying design principles of the 1930s LCC social housing types.
When Lewisham Council changed its housing policy for the estate in the late 1970s – giving priority to young single professionals – it gave the impetus to the development of a radical arts and music scene that gained Deptford an almost legendary status in the 1970s and 80s.
The Crossfield has been included in the Conservation Area for both its architectural interest and significance to the development and social history of the area.